A sleep study is the most accurate test for diagnosing sleep apnea. It captures what happens with your breathing while you sleep.
A polysomnogram (poly-SOM-no-gram), or PSG, is the most common study for diagnosing sleep apnea. This test records:
- Brain activity
- Eye movement and other muscle activity
- Breathing, heart rate and heart electrical activity
- How much air moves in and out of your lungs while you're sleeping
- The amount of oxygen in your blood
- Limb movements
A PSG is painless. You will go to sleep as usual, except you will have sensors on your scalp, face, chest, limbs, and finger. The staff at the sleep center will use the sensors to check on you throughout the night.
A sleep specialist reviews the results of your PSG to see whether you have sleep apnea and how severe it is. He or she will use the results to plan your treatment.
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is the most common treatment for moderate to severe sleep apnea in adults. A CPAP machine uses a mask that fits over your mouth and nose, or just over your nose. The machine gently blows air into your throat.
The air presses on the wall of your airway. The air pressure is adjusted so that it's just enough to stop the airways from becoming narrowed or blocked during sleep.
Treating sleep apnea may help you stop snoring. But stopping snoring doesn't mean that you no longer have sleep apnea or can stop using CPAP. Sleep apnea will return if CPAP is stopped or not used correctly.
There are many different kinds of CPAP machines and masks. Be sure to tell your doctor if you're not happy with the type you're using. He or she may suggest switching to a different kind that may work better for you.
People who have severe sleep apnea symptoms generally feel much better once they begin treatment with CPAP.
Long term effects if left untreated may include:
- High blood pressure
- Congestive heart failure
- Heart Attack
- Sudden death